Browsing articles tagged with "Cocoa Atelier Archives - I Love Saturday"
Feb 11, 2014

Evita – Powerful Romance

It was off to the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, a hop, skip & a jump from ILS HQ, last night for Evita. Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s all-singing, all-dancing tale of Argentina’s legendary “spirit of the nation”, Eva Peron. First stop for us, me & Dad, was Herbstreet on Hanover Quay. Where else? Always a full house during sell out shows, we enjoyed a warm welcome & a bustling atmosphere. The perfect place for pre-theatre chow.

The menu at Herbstreet changes with the seasons, but one thing that remains the same is their scrummy sweet potato wedges. Big chunks of foodie love served with chipotle & lemon feta dips. So we shared those, alongside baked Cooleeney with sourdough bread & quinoa salad for me & a special of grilled halloumi with fruity cous cous & apricot chutney for Dad. All totes delish, needless to say!

Dessert followed at the Upper Circle bar, where we paired our drinkies with a box of Cocoa Atelier chocolates. Ambassador… Well, it is my birthday! The view of Grand Canal Docks from here, is one of the best features of the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. A magical slice of modern Dublin. Yes, Sir. We soon took our seats, for the performance. The Gods. I must say, I do like watching from the Upper Circle.

Is it wrong to fancy Marti Pellow? Starring as narrator Che (channelling Che Guevara, but not quite him), Pellow looks swashbuckling swarthy in his combats and bovver boots. Of course, I remember him from his Wet Wet Wet days, when as a ten year old I was a little bit in love with him. Pellow is now an accomplished Wet End player, as well as a successful solo artist. And still quite handsome too…

A deep throat opener from Che, brings us to Evita’s state funeral where her passing is mourned by the nation. Then we go back in time to 1940s Argentina, where small town girl Eva Peron lets her larger than life personality do the talking, or singing in this case. In search of the big time, she persuades tango singer Agustin Magaldi to take her to Buenos Aires. Eva is ready for her first bite of the Big Apple.

With bright lights in her eyes Eva climbs the society ladder, forging a career as an actress & model. Following a devastating earthquake, Eva meets Juan Peron at a charity ball. Together they rise to power, during a time of political turmoil, to become President & First Lady of Argentina. Under Peron’s wing, Evita transcends her humble beginnings to national sweetheart. Theirs is a tale of enduring love.

Evita sweeps us up in a heady cocktail of romance & power as Eva, played superbly by Madelena Alberto, & Juan Peron, played by stage veteran Mark Heenehan, fuse together to make an unforgettable alliance. From the start of their affair, “I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You” to the height of their reign, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” the stage is a hotbed of emotion. Pure Rice & Lloyd Webber magic.

Alberto’s mighty voice takes us through the highs & lows of Evita’s political opus & into the bosom of her marriage. The love between her & Peron is reflected onto the raging streets of Argentina. This production highlights Evita’s magnificent wealth against a backdrop of Argentina’s desperate “shirtless”, represented by Che throughout. Her heart must outshine her diamonds, as far as they are concerned.

A captivating “High Flying Adored” between Eva & Che, leads us into her infamous Rainbow Tour of Europe. Evita puts on the performance of her life, while at the same time fighting a losing battle with her failing health. She rallies behind Peron, but he must watch his beloved burgeon in spirit & wither in strength. She clings to him, all she has left. “You Must Love Me” brought a tear to my eye.

Evita really captures the heat of Buenos Aires at the time, with the Perons cast against a lively ensemble of good time girls, military men & ordinary folk. I enjoyed the costumes in particular, from flirty tea dresses to dapper uniform, they conveyed times past when both men & women held their own brands of allure. Evita’s glamour to Peron’s steady presence. A winning combo in any day & age.

The final scenes see out the tragedy of Evita’s untimely death with Peron pledging “She Is A Diamond” to her & “Eva’s Final Broadcast” as her heart wrenching last stand. We’re back in black for her funeral, Che to the fore once again lamenting her death with all of Argentina. Evita is an icon for women & Madelena Alberto’s invigorating turn is a triumph of passion & self realisation. A spectacular show!

Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2 / www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie / Herbstreet, Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2 /www.herbstreet.ie

Dec 5, 2013

Merry Dublin! Twelve Shops of Christmas

Dublin city centre is looking really smart right now. Twinkling lights, winding lane ways and lots of lovely shops. Forget suburban Yummy Drummie malls and get where the action’s at. And you can have a pint after a hard days shopping! Town is back with a bang this Christmas. Dublin has reinvented itself as a cool city, following some lean years, and paved the way for a fresh mix of creative retailers and arty shops.

Okay, first thing for out of towners – keep off Grafton Street and Henry Street. The really interesting shops are behind the scenes. Dublin’s Creative Quarter is a buzzing hive between Wicklow, Georges and South William Streets. Lots to do and see here! From so hip it hurts to vintage gems and artisan foods to quirky boutiques, this jam packed area keeps on giving. Other side of the Liffey, Moore and Capel Streets are festive hotspots.

It’s tradition chez moi to do a family shopping day every Christmas. We meet at midday, fuel up on coffee and cake, mill about town picking out our pressies and finish with pub grub and some well earned pints. We get to soak in the Christmas vibes and ensure that nobody receives rubbish gifts. Winner! Dad likes books, the Bruv likes music and Mother loves hand crafts. Here’s where we’ll be heading…

1.) Makers & Brothers & Others. When I first chanced upon this new shop on Dame Lane, I was intrigued. There was cakes in the window, what can I say… I wanted to know what was inside. This smart lifestyle pop-up is the work of the Jonathan and Mark Legge, the crafty siblings behind Makers & Brothers. They’ve collaborated with a hip set of Irish designers to bring us some pretty cool stuff.

Cakes are from The Wild Flower Bakery and look almost too good to eat. Billed as a tiny seasonal department store, Makers & Brothers & Others is a joy to explore. The antidote to commercial Christmas. I liked twisty wooden stools from James Carroll, tableware from Jerpoint Irish Glass and a fun knitted fox from Claire-Anne O’Brien. Go here for housey things and kiddie gifts. And a cup of tea.

2.) Clerys. It’s back! After a devastating flood this summer, Dublin’s fave department store was closed for a five month refurbishment. Although Clerys has been a much loved haunt of mine, it was seriously in need of a facelift. And here it is, all shiny and bouncy, but retaining it’s old skool charm. Perfect. I was afraid I wouldn’t recognise it, but fear not – it’s Clerys, only better. The shop floor is bright and uncluttered with original features polished. And, well, modrin. Christmas under one brand new roof.

Chic newbies include – Moda in Pelle, True Decadence and Apanage. Gone are the granny wedding hats and in are quality handbags, scarves and shoes you really want in your wardrobe. Clerys offers substance and style. Send Himself to Carphone Warehouse, new on the ground floor, while you browse Benetton, Mexx and Mango. Meet Mother at The Tea Rooms and bring the kids to Santa’s Joy Factory.

3.) Powerscourt Townhouse Centre. I do love this place. It’s like a calm oasis in, y’know, the sprawling metropolis that is Dublin… Powerscourt is the ideal Christmas venue with plenty of artisan shops, galleries and cafes. First up, party outfits. Go vintage at The Loft Market and Irish at Marion Cuddy, both regular spots for yours truly. Up the glamour stakes at Covet, Design Centre and Dawn Fitzgerald. Genius for cool casuals.

Gift-wise, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre caters well for the hard-to-buy-for crowd. For something unique head to Article, an eclectic collection of funky objets and house wares. Bow for pretty little things. A Rubenesque and The Garden for decorations and flowers. Try the Bonsai Shop for an alternative Crimbo tree. Kennedy and McSharry for a tweed flat cap. The Bloke loves his! Rosemantic fellas who are thinking of popping the ultimate Christmas surprise… The best antique jewellery in Dublin. She’ll love it. And you!

4.) Ferocious Mingle Marcade. Believe it or not you can buy your Crimbo pressies second hand. Simply vintage, Darling! With so much post-recessionary re-purposing going on these days, markets are super spots to pick up something a bit different. The Marcade has moved from it’s old location to a bohemian den on Camden Street. I used to live in this part of town and am so excited by how lively it’s become. Wind your way up from the city with leisure.

Shopping, entertainment and food. What more do you want? These guys know how to throw a party too! Open every Thursday to Sunday, join in the fun with stalls selling everything from antique clocks and mirrors and grunge princess fashions to pre-loved books and handmade soaps. Relax after a hard days shopping at Dublin’s tiniest cinema and munch on home baked goodies from Oscar Verne’s Coffee Bar.

5.) Cocoa Atelier. Christmas is the one time of the year that you’re allowed to stuff your chops and get away with it. But I call quality over quantity. Instead of reaching into a tin of Roses, I’ll be savouring artisan chocolates from Cocoa Atelier. This is my (the Bloke’s) go-to place for sweet treats. Cocoa Atelier was born when French chef, Marc Amand, spotted a gap in the market for gourmet chocs in Ireland. Good work!

The shop, on Drury Street, is like stepping through a portal to Paris. Chic black and white detail show the exquisite chocolates off to their best, but it’s the taste that counts. There’s a range of flavours to choose from, including – salted caramel, ginger, lime, mango, chestnut honey and Earl Grey – as well as myriad bars and luxe foodie gifts. The chocolate Christmas baubles are too cute! Buy colourful macaroons and delicate eclairs for your Christmas table. And hot chocolate for now!

6.) Georges Street Arcade. I’ve been shopping here since my teenage days, when I was first allowed into town all by myself. Me & my best mate used to browse records and smoke ciggies. Good times! So the Arcade has a special place in my heart. The shops have changed over the years, new ones popping up all the time. But some things remain the same, like Simon’s Place, the cosy cafe that keeps me and the Bloke so well fed.

Housed in a Victorian redbrick market, Georges Street Arcade offers a quirky collection of shops. Pick up retro vinyl at Spindizzy Records (Himself is a regular), silver and stones at New Moon Jewellery and stocking fillers at Bombay Banshee. Make like Uncle Gaybo and hit Beaux Bows for your geansai Nollaig. Or try sheepskin in The Gift of Warmth to keep the chill out. And a Pieminister with mushy peas & mash!

7.) Siopaella. Can’t afford Brown Thomas? Then get down to Temple Bar. They say you can’t put a price on love, but at Siopaella you’ll find great deals on Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs. And just about every designer you can think of. Items are selected by owner, Ella, who picks the cream of pre-loved, worn once and labels on fashion. She’ll even style you a fabulous party outfit.

The great thing about Siopaella is you’ll find something that nobody else has. With two stores, one on Crow Street the other on Temple Lane, offering high street to high end there’s plenty to suit your budget. I’ve scored a Rachel Mackey cashmere cardi, silk Custo dress and a Chesneau handbag among many bargains. Watch out for box fresh Louboutins. Siopaella’s menswear is the best pre-loved in town. Mother loves their vintage jewellery.

8.) Project 51. Tucked away on Dublin’s premier hipster strip, South William Street, this Irish design collective has it’s finger on the pulse. Project 51 is a creative hub and retail space. Hannah Flew runs things front of house, where there’s a great selection of gifts and home grown wedding items. I love Anita Conway handmade lace garters, intricate Grace O’Reilly Jewellery and stunning Kate Betts Hats.

Finding surprises is one thing I really enjoy when shopping, and out the back of Project 51 is a fun place to nose around. Funky neon clubwear brought me back to 90s London where I spent my college days wandering around Camden Market. Only for the young and daring! Meanwhile, there’s plenty in for Christmas. Nik’s Tea gift sets, Gillian Field illustrated mugs and Airmid Natural handmade soaps.

9.) Chapters. Here’s a place me and the Bloke could spend hours happily ignoring each other, lost in row after row of books. Chapters is spread out over two gigantic floors, new books on the ground floor and second hand upstairs. Stocking the whole gamut of readables from fiction and biography to reference and educational. There’s more art, photography, fashion and cookery books than you can shake a stick at. Chapters is also a great source for Irish books and lesser known titles.

It’s not just books here. Chapters does a great range of stationery too, including cards, notebooks and diaries. Brilliant stocking fillers. I went in to get a book for the Bruv’s birthday and these guys ordered it specially, with only one day delivery. The service is top notch. Upstairs is the place for random finds – the best way to buy books! Swing by Moore Street afterwards for fresh fruit and Paris Bakery for cakes.

10.) Cows Lane Designer Studio. Mother and me love this place. At the cool end of Temple Bar, Cow Lane Designer Studio showcases the best of Irish design and crafts. We’re big fans of Deirdre Griffin glass fusion jewellery. Her rings and earrings are simple yet striking. Manned by the designers themselves you can chat about creative techniques or commission a special piece in person. The atmosphere here is open and friendly.

A nice present-to-self (g’wan. I won’t tell anyone) would be a hat from Shevlin Millinery. John Shevlin’s head wear is beautifully made and well established in the Irish fashion world. Wear it on Christmas Day! Choose unique gifts from handmade Brookwood Pottery, fresh on the shelves, Bouji Organic candles and the softest scarves from Daiva’s Textiles. Cows Lane Designer Studio is also home to great prints and artwork. Come here for house inspiration.

11.) Fallon & Byrne. A top spot for posh foodie gifts, this place stocks a mouthwatering array of Christmas treats. Their fabulous hampers include a hand picked selection of the best artisan produce. Try the Gourmet Irish, which includes – Cashel Blue cheese, Pandora Bell nougat, Ummera Organic Irish smoked salmon, Mella’s butter fudge and Fallon & Byrne’s famous house granola. The food of life!

The Food Hall provides all you need for a tasty Christmas dinner table. Organic fruit and veg, fresh meat and fish, charcuterie and antipasti. There’s also amazing choice when it comes to the high end pantry – Italian extra virgin olive oils, French mustards and teas from around the world. The wine shop is well worth a visit too. Grab a seat by the front window and people watch Wicklow Street with delectable cakes and Dublin’s best latte. Yes Sir!

12.) Avoca. I’ve always loved Avoca, just for the pure chance to channel one’s fantasy lifestyle through their dotty displays and dreamy scenarios. I often picture myself wrapped up in a lambswool blanket, taking Ceylon and scones by a blazing fireside. Bliss. My most recent purchase was, in fact, one of their mill woven blankets as a wedding gift for friends. There’s a rainbow of jewel colours to pick from.

Appealing to the girl in me, Avoca does everything pretty. Kitsch even. Patterned plates, quirky teapots, ceramic door knobs, glass jewellery and cutesy hats. Clothes are whimsical yet totally wearable. The kids section is great fun with adorable wooly jumpers, Jellycat teddies and a sugar rush sweetie hamper. For the chef in your life, head for the kitchen gear, delicatessen and super yummy cookbooks.

So now you know where to go! I’ve gotta say, Dublin has become a real arty little city over the last few years, now that we’re out of the Tiger’s claw. I love nothing more than mooching around town – the Creative Quarter, Temple Bar, Capel Street – and chancing upon new shops and cafes. Do check out as many independent stores as you can, they’re so much more exciting and original. Happy shopping!

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May 5, 2013

Cocoa Atelier – Let Them Eat Chocolate!

There’s hot chocolate. And there’s Cocoa Atelier hot chocolate. The Bloke had nipped into Cocoa Atelier on Drury Street to buy me some lovely chocolates. No reason, that’s just how he rolls. Lucky me! And while he was at it, a nice assistant pointed him in the direction of what is quickly becoming known as Dublin’s best hot chocolate. A bottle of the stuff, to take away, which he duly snapped up.

Cocoa Atelier began when Marc Armand, a French chef and founder of La Rousse Foods, wanted to bring a little slice of Paris to Dublin. A proper chocolaterie, that offers something to the connoisseur, within a sleek boutique setting. High cocoa content is the key when it comes to top quality chocolate. Cocoa Atelier combine theirs with continental flavours, like lime, earl grey, whiskey, mango and vanilla.

The shop is a joy for sweet tooths (hands up!) with beautifully crafted goodies on display. French patisserie include traditional chocolate creme eclairs and macaroons in every colour of the rainbow. Treats are packaged in chic black boxes, perfect gifts, and bars are available in squares of varying darkness. Jars of chocolate and caramel sauce are perfect for desserts. Mmmn… Now, where was I?

Cocoa Atelier, 30 Drury Street, Dublin 2